carroll football

In this April 7, 2017, file photo, Carroll College coach Mike Van Diest is all smiles after his defensive unit turns in an interception during spring drills.

The next Saints had their chances to impress Carroll’s football coaching staff on Monday, as the program hosted its annual Junior Day.

The event brings in the top high school juniors who are entering their senior year from across Montana and gives them a chance to work out and go through football drills with Carroll’s football program. It -- along with a football camp and a 7-on-7 tournament -- is part of Carroll’s busy summer schedule.

“It’s low key but it’s not low key,” Saints coach Mike Van Diest said. “We do an hour and 55 minutes in the morning out here on the field and in weight room. We break up by positions and we have six circuits. We have a little skelly, one-on-one pass room. We shower and then go to lunch. Have a couple of speakers and then a tour. We finish up around 3:30.”

Van Diest said the team itself has about 63 players working out in Helena this summer, a tidbit the team hopes leads to more on-field success next season.

On Monday, the Saints worked out about 50 high schoolers, mostly from Montana, but a few traveling from various parts of the Pacific Northwest.

The day has fostered relationships in the past. Van Diest said some of the Saints more coveted recruits have come through and participated in Junior Day, and then signed with Carroll later on.

“We’ve had a number of guys that have come through,” Van Diest said. “Xavier Pace was a great sign last year. Ryan Arntson. Guys like that. A lot of local guys. Wesley Harshbarger was a guy we liked and we got him on campus.”

Van Diest said the premise of the event was not to break down players and analyze every strength and weakness, but rather get the players around the program and creating a bond.

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“It gets them around us,” Van Diest said. “We get to see how they react with their teammates. Some of these guys are teammates from Capital High or Helena High or schools in Idaho. We get them over here and have some fun and relax.

“It’s not a combine like the NFL where we do an hour-and-a-half drill with each position. We just come out here and have some fun with them. We want them to be around our coaches and I want them to see our campus so hopefully they’ll come back again.”

Up next on Van Diest’s summer schedule?

“Fishin’ and watching a lot of film.”

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